Free at last
Lazarus Chakwera pardons Uladi Mussa, Mussa John
President Lazarus Chakwera has pardoned former Homeland Security minister Uladi Mussa as part of Easter holiday celebrations.
Uladi is a seasoned politician who was sentenced to six years imprisonment for being found guilty in a corruption trial linked to a passport case.
He has also pardoned Mussa John, who was convicted of being found with chamba and sentenced to eight years in prison.
John’s sentence attracted public ire, as civil society organisations and some citizens described the sentence as “unfair”.
It got to an extent where citizens, including musician Fredokiss, flocked to the streets to remonstrate the sentence.
Another notable prisoner that has been freed is Jones Tewesa, who, until his imprisonment, was the driver for former commissioner at the Malawi Electoral Commission Linda Kunje. Kunje was pardoned last year by Chakwera.
Tewesa was convicted of not paving the way for the President’s convoy in Zomba.
Homeland Security Minister Kenneth Zikhale Ng’oma has confirmed the development.
“It has pleased the State President, Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, to pardon a total of 200 prisoners as part of Easter celebrations. The Constitution gives the State President power to pardon prisoners who have behaved well in the course of their stay in prison. This is the appropriate time to reconcile as a country,” Ng’oma said.
Section 89(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi gives the President powers to pardon convicted offenders.
Meanwhile, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa has received the news with mixed feelings.
“We welcome the President’s decision to pardon the prisoners with mixed feelings. We acknowledge the fact that it is the President’s prerogative to pardon prisoners who have demonstrated good behaviour.
“However, the pardon of Uladi Mussa raises questions regarding the Tonse Alliance administration’s commitment to the fight against corruption. This is so considering the popular perception that politicians support each other. It has set a bad precedent,” Kaiyatsa said.
He also accused the current administration of playing double standards on the issue of Tewesa’s pardoning.
“The pardon of Linda Kunje’s driver is welcome even though it should have happened earlier. As we have been saying all along, he should have been pardoned earlier, alongside his boss,” Kaiyatsa said.
Meanwhile, Musician Fredokiss has said he is elated with news of John’s release.
“We, as youths, are very happy and thankful to God and the President for the decision. It is encouraging to note that the President has now started listening to people on issues affecting young people. We hope this goes beyond just addressing the issue of ‘selective justice’. Otherwise, this is victory and the whole country is celebrating,” he said.
Last year, Chakwera pardoned 106 prisoners during the Easter period.
Chakwera has so far pardoned over 1,900 prisoners since he became President.